Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Spoken Reasons, Dan Bakkedahl, Tom Wilson
Running Time: 117 minutes
Release Date: July 31
At what what point can we call an actor typecast? It’s hard not to look at Melissa McCarthy, here reprising the same no-shit-man-magnet-wild-woman schtick seen in Paul Feig’s 2011 film Bridesmaids and the iffy-to-abysmal Identity Thief, and think ‘surely there’s more than this?’
And yet The Heat teams her Officer Mullins with Sandra Bullock’s Agent Mills, a spartan FBI agent who’ll be familiar to anyone who’s seen the Miss Congeniality series. Bullock is far enough in her career with a diverse enough portfolio that she can slip by accusations of being typecast, while McCarthy’s turn seems indicative of a worrying trend. Either way, the pairing of old—sorry Sandra—and new mostly works in Feig’s buddy-lady-cop-comedy.
As the pair try to overcome their differences in the name of taking down a Boston drug kingpin, backup is provided by the talented but elusive Tom Wilson (Back to The Future’s Biff Tannen), back on screen as the browbeaten Captain Woods, although his appearance is fleeting. Dan Bakkedahl (Veep, Community) is similarly disparaged—much of the laughs here stem from McCarthy’s trademark on impromptu abusive tirades—as albino DEA agent Craig. Whatever the politically correct protocol is for extra-white-face, it’s hard not to imagine there are albino actors out there just dying for a role like this. Marlon Wayans pops up from time to time as Agent Levy, a role that plays at undermining romantic subplot tropes, but never amounts to much.
The top cop out of water premise of the film will ring bells for anyone familiar with Edgar Wright’s seminal Hot Fuzz, a film with levels of concentrated wit equivalent to an entire season of Arrested Development distilled into a two hour film. The Heat has its laughs—most of which you’ve seen in the trailers—but doesn’t come close to the sublime comedic volatility of Wright’s film, or even Feig’s cinematic breakout—which admittedly he didn’t write—Bridesmaids.
What it does share with it’s predecessor is a Rain Man like affinity for the Bechdel Test, passing with flying colours and full merits. The film certainly doesn’t shy away from addressing sexism in the workplace, and though it doesn’t lean so hard that it becomes overbearing, it also doesn’t work that angle enough that there’s anything to take away from the movie.
Feig’s latest is far from criminally bad, with the two leads delivering a comedic rapport that’s charming if predictable. However, after Bridesmaids, it’s hard not to expect something smarter, funnier, or straight-up more interesting than this from Feig.